Is the Go Oahu Card worth it? Oahu Card review 2016

Oahu, Hawaii is a dream paradise for most, if not all, visitors who come to the island. The island itself is home to beautiful beaches, clear water dotted with reefs, tall mountains that beckon hikers of all skill levels, local shops, resorts and hotels fit for a king and restaurants severing both local and international dishes.

Oahu is also home to 35 different attractions that are commonly found in a travelers’ island itinerary.  If you’re interested in visiting as many of those attractions as possible during your stay, it might make sense to look into the Go Oahu Card. This card is an attraction pass that allows you to visit 35 Oahu attractions as well as a visit to 1 premium attraction. But is it a good deal? Below we’ll take a look at everything the card covers, how long it lasts and how to use it to get the best deal for your money.

Go Oahu Card Prices for 2016

When purchasing the card, you’ll see that prices are broken into groups according to how many days you want covered in your trip. Adult prices cover ages 13+ while a child pass covers ages 3-12. Children under 3 are free.

  • 3 Day Adult $184.00, 3 Day Child $149.00
  • 5 Day Adult $245.00, 5 Day Child $200.00
  • 7 Day Adult $289.00, 7 Day Child $230.00

Although the prices above are the official prices of the card, keep a lookout for sales throughout the year. Luckily, these sales happen on a pretty regular basis and allow you the chance to save a good chuck of change. Also, keep in mind that each pass, no matter how many days you get on it, it valid for a two week period and is activated when you visit your first attraction.

Top sights and attractions

Dolphin Encounter by Sea Life Park – $136.12

Available with a 3, 5, or 7 day pass, the Dolphin Encounter by Sea Life Park offers you a chance to get up close and personal with dolphins in a waist deep platform. From the platform you’ll get to view the dolphins playing as well as showing off a few of their tricks. All together this attraction is about 45 minutes long, but it is advised that you show up a half hour early. This attraction is suitable for both kids and adults.

Alii Luau & Dinner Show at The Polynesian Cultural Center – $113.23

Great for those who love cultural experiences, the Alii Luau & Dinner Show offers viewers a show featuring dance, song and fire knives. Each show has about 100 different performers. The dinner itself is composed of traditional luau dishes such as poi, lomi salmon and kalua pork. During your visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center, make sure to take time to explore the 42 acres as well. This attraction is also only available with a 3, 5, or 7 day pass.

Hanauma Bay Snorkel – $25.08

Known for its great snorkeling and plentiful amount of tropical fish and coral viewing, Hanauma Bay is a must do during your visit to Oahu. In this protected bay you’ll find fish, rays, sea turtles and sometimes dolphins swimming off in the distance. The bay is also bordered by a white sand beach and palm trees. Even though this snorkel is part of the card, there is still a $7.50 entrance fee to pay if you’re not a resident of Hawaii. Another thing to note is that before you can enter the water, you’ll first need to watch a 1/2 hour video presentation. This is a great attraction for all ages and can easily take a half day to enjoy.

Battleship Missouri – $27.00

Located in Pearl Harbor, the Battleship Missouri is refurbished and available for viewing. The tour takes you to the Surrender Deck and gives you the chance to see where a Japanese kamikaze pilot flew into the ship’s hull. The shuttle bus that takes you to the Missouri runs about every 10 minutes or so, making it so that you’ll have lots of opportunities to select a time that works best for you. The tour runs around an hour and a half and it should be noted that comfortable clothes are best. Children are allowed, however they do need to be supervised at all times.

Diamond Head Hike – $16.27

A dry hike that offers great views of both the ocean and the mountains alongside some impressive skyline views of Honolulu, the Diamond Head Hike is a great way to see a large area of Oahu in only a few hours. Great for all ages, this hike is one of the easier hikes on the island, though it should be noted that it’s a hot hike with a good amount of stairs. Comfortable shoes, clothes and lots of water are needed.

Jungle Tour at Kualoa Ranch – $48.12

If you ever wanted to feel like you’ve traveled back into time to when the dinosaurs once roamed, the Jungle Tour at Kualoa Ranch is for you. Both rugged and remote, the Hakipuu Valley is a photographer’s dream. A tour here takes about an hour and a half and leads you through jungle trails, steep hills and lush valleys as well as down by the coast. This tour is great for all ages, but reservations are required.

Stand Up Paddle Board 3-hour Rental – $36.65

A 3-hour rental is a great way to enjoy some stand up paddle boarding on the North Shore. Once on your board, you’ll get the opportunity to view sea life in the coral reefs below. Because you have 3 hours, you’ll have plenty of time to move at your own pace without having to worry about keeping up with a group. Great for both adults and children. Due to the limited amount of paddle boards however, reservations are required.

Makani Catamaran Sail – $25.08

Venturing alongside Oahu’s coastlines, this catamaran sailing cruise is a great way to see Oahu from a different angle. On board you’ll find a full bar, a covered seating area, an LCD TV, sunbathing net areas, pilothouse seating and a stereo surround sound system. You’ll also get the chance to view wild dolphins alongside a plethora of other creatures that call the ocean around Oahu home. Each tour last about 2 hours and reservations are required.

Is the Go Oahu Card a good deal

As stated above, the card covers admission to 35 Oahu attractions and free admission to 1 of the top 4 premium attractions on the island. Also included with the card is a local guidebook that explains what each attraction is,their hours of operation and a map. On top of that, you’ll also find shopping, entertainment and dining discounts. But does all of this make the Go Oahu Card a good deal? Well, that depends on exactly what you’re looking to get out of your vacation and how many people you have with you.

If you plan to visit as many attractions as possible, then the card serves as a great way to save money. If you were going to each attraction by itself and paying full price, the money would add up pretty quickly and exceed the cost of the card.  Below is an example of a possible itinerary showing the difference between the price of a 3 day card and paying full price at the gate.

Day 1

  • Sea Life park $29.00
  • Hawaiian Style Moped $31.41

Day 2

  • Pearl Harbor Historical City Tour $38.00
  • Diamond Head Hike $16.27
  • Hanuama Bay Snorkel $22.98

Day 3

  • Makani Catamaran Sail $69.00
  • Polynesian Cultural Center $49.95

The final cost of this particular itinerary ends up coming up to $256.61. The cost of a 3 day card is $184.00 for an adult. As you can see, the card saves a total of $72.61. This is money that you could use for a nice dinner or two, at the local shops or for a surf lesson.

If you’re traveling with a family or large group, the savings add up even more. If you plan to do a lot of hiking and are not really into the attraction scene, then the card is probably not the best fit for you as you might end up not visiting enough attractions to make up the difference in price.

Are all of the attractions covered with the Go Oahu Card worth a visit

When you purchase your card, you’ll have the option of going to any of the 35 attractions connected to the card. Some of the more popular ones are: Wet ‘n Wild Hawaii, Sea Life Park, Waimea Valley, Diamond Head Hike, Dole Plantation Maze, Polynesian Cultural Center and the Honolulu City and Shopping Tour.

You’ll also have the option of picking one of the four main Oahu attractions: HA Breath of Life-Dinner Show at Polynesian Cultural Center, Germaine’s Juau, Kualoa Ranch Experience and Lunch Buffet and lastly Dollar Rent A Car (Jeep Wrangler Special).

The  general consensus is that all of the attractions are a great visit and worth the time. However, there are a few attractions that don’t cost very much to being with (under $15) and end up taking time away from your day. These might be the ones that you choose to skip unless you plan on being go go go throughout the entire day without any breaks between attractions. It’s generally best to choose some of the more expensive attractions that take up a few hours so that you get the most bang for your buck and more of an activity.

How Not to use a Go Oahu Card

Oahu itself is a very small island with general travel time from one side of the island to the other only taking about 2 1/2 hours. With that said, traffic can increase this travel time by a few hours on the weekends when locals and visitors alike are driving to the different beaches. When you plan your attractions, it’s best to group the attractions that are close to each other into one day, or two, so that you’re not wasting away the sunshine trying to get from point A to point B.

Also, keep in mind that traffic in Honolulu is heavy no matter what day or time it is. It’s best to go to attractions that are on the outskirts of town where you can avoid the bulk of traffic. Generally traffic around the outer rim of the island is pretty light, making those attractions ideal for those wishing to do a lot of different ones throughout the day.

Where do you purchase your Go Oahu Card

Once you’ve decided that the card is a great fit for your Oahu vacation, the next step is to purchase the card. This is the easy part. You can purchase the card at:

>>>Buy the Go Oahu Card at the lowest available price (discounts are often in effect)

>>>Buy a personalized Go Oahu Card at the lowest available price

Once you’ve purchased the card, you have the choice of receiving it via snail mail, email or delivered straight to your smartphone.

Similar Go Cards to consider

Photos by Flickr users NASA, Brain Snelson, Jean Tessmer, Daniel Ramirez, Stuart Seeger and Sibley Hunter.




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